In Hooks we have a magus character who has a familiar without any magical might. The core book says that a familiar must have inherent magic. This familiar has something akin to a supernatural virtue. This implicitly answers the question of whether or not a familiar must have might.
Such might-less familiars have the opportunity to learn at the same rate as humans, avoiding the might penalty to experience gain from RoP: Magic entirely.
Because familairs will likely have few other responsibilities to distract them, I imagine that over the course of the order's history there have been at least a few familiars who have studied magic theory a great deal, probably more than even dedicated magi (they have no magical arts to spend their time with, they aren't needed in the lab all of the time).
So it seems to me that there is at least the possibility that some of the greatest tomes on magic theory that the order has were authored by animals.
I'd challenge you to come up with a tome and a corresponding author for some of the greatest magic theory summae (?) that have ever existed. What sort of a familiar wrote it, how the book reflects their unique perspective, what was it about their personality that made them such a great authority, and so on.
Climbing the Steep Cliff of Mystic knowledge.
by Rupicapra Vehemens, Scholae Familiaris
Summa on Maguc Theory, L8 Q10
This book was written in the 11th century by Rupicapra Vehemens, the chamois familiar of one of the Val Negra magi. Ironically the familiar's name persists since his work is really sound, but it is difficult to track down the name of the magus that bound her, even in this book. The book is written in a series of metal sheets and is encased in wolf's leather instead of the more usual lamb or cow materials. In fact, the battling attitude of the author towards wolves and other predators is quite clear in the text.
The text is written in a clear and concise prose. It explores the hermetic arts relating them to types of stone, specially slate, and their application and combinations using examples that can be found in the natural environment of a mountain range. The text is specially insightful in the areas of Terram and Herbam, specially Pyrenean ones, and can be studied as a tractatus on both subjects (Q8) as well as acting as a guide for safe Pyrenean travel. The book is specially noteworthy for its clear and defined defence of decisive action when in front of tricky points of magical usage: it defends that careful but decisive action to cross dangerous ground is much better than trying to find a perfect way to solve a theoretical or practical point. This action-oriented perspective permeates significant thinking methods inside the most proactive magical traditions, especially house flambeau and tytalus, with significant parts of Tremere and Bjornaer as well, while is a perspective that does not find as many supporters in more sedate houses more prone to nitpick on the details of magic theory than these. The debates between the proponents of both approaches have been famous in the past, and it is a debate that has not ended with a clear winner, since both camps have managed to generate significant breakthroughs in the history of the Order of Hermes. Being one of the foundational (and still best written) texts on the subject, Rupicapra's text is still widely circulated even if contains some odd magical assumptions due to dated knowledge. The text has been widely edited and commented to clarify points of theory and add new discoveries to the basic corpus, but the commentators have been careful enough to leave the message and basic perspectives of the core text clear and readily available.
I also allow Mightless familiars, though they are rarely chosen. However, I also allow familiars to learn without penalty if being taught by their magus, as the rule in the core book which says as much takes precedence over side sourcebooks.
..which is why our troupe tends to encourage mightless familiars.
and as for the worry about familiars becomming the grand masters of magical theory, well... there has also been an encouragement for taking cats as familiars.
Sleeping for 18 hours a day sort of limits that sort of thing
Yeah, familiars seem great both at null Might (explicit in earlier editions) and at massive Might for a character optimized around having a powerful familiar.
In previous editions, a Mighty familiar was much less advantageous, since Might took away both from Bond strength and extra goodies (which are no longer present in AM5; we get the ability to enchant the bond instead.)
Understanding your Master and his strange ways.
by Mieti Ermini
Summa on Magic Theory, L3 Q4
This book was written around the time of the Hibernian tribunal of 1082 by Mieti Ermini, the Stout familiar of an Ex Miscellanea whom is is now forgotten, most due to the fact that he or she actually never accomplished anything in his or her life. It is a beautiful book, well bound (which has rised the Quality from 3 to 4) and every ten pages has very well colored and life-like pictures of wild stouts in various types of nature.
This book leaves a person hoping that every next page is actually better than the previous one and although the pictures are beautiful, they have nothing to do with the text. It is quite obvious that after 30-40 pages that the majority of the work put into this book has been put into the various drawings. Page 24-29,65 and 71-74 also have a number of paw prints in ink that obstructs the text, making it even harder to read. Those with Animal Handling 3+ or Philosophiae 1+ can see that these paw prints must be from a young pup and not the familiar itself. Also, someone has smashed the book shut in order to kill a large bug on page 96 and squished it over the entire page.
The text could almost be used as a tractati in herbam or animal, but unfortunately, the paw prints of pages 26-27 and 72-73 makes it impossible to be read as such. Somehow the ink has been permanent and cant be removed with hermetic magic. It is unclear why it is like this, but as the book is not written that well, no one has ever bothered with rewriting the book or fixing all the problems.
Apart from learning very little magic theory from this book in a very slow speed, one can read it a second time as a tractati with quality 4 (Or read it two times as a tractati with quality 3 x2 if one's Magic Theory is greater than 3) and if one does, one learns the following spell targets: Ermine (+2), which somehow defeats all normal hermetic theories as it targets 1 or more Ermine in a area wide enough to be a boundary. (Though it can still be used as a spontaneous or formulaic spell).
Nice one. Another option might be to make this into an Enigmatic Wisdom hidden text relating the book to the magic realm of Animal?
Question: I am away from my books, so could someone point me out the rules for writing summae on mundane topics? I think I went overboard with the totals. My PC are not too keen on writing mundane ability summae, so I am not that familiar with their rules.
It's the same as for Arts but in terms of the level of what you can write and quality boosts are tripled compared with arts per level dropped, and you need to accumulate 5 times as many points to finish as compared to Arts.
Bob, who hopes he has phrased it not to violate the injunction against writing down the rules on the internet.
Decreased the level of Capra's book to 7. This is more believable (Magic Theory 12 + 2 for puissant) but could potentially be higher as suggested by Erik Tyrrell. Quality could be higher, but better to keep at Com +1 and +3 to it due to general bonuses than to go overboard there.
Puissant doesn't count for writing, it only counts when it is used. The ability or Art isn't being used when teaching, learning or writing about the ability or Art.
Edit: But an MT score of 14 for a familiar acquired early in the career of a magus isn't unbelievable.
Well in the Ranulf thread the familiar got to a magic theory of 9, in the Adelbert thread the familiar has a magic theory of 8 with 30 years left to go. Both of these familiars have other interests and are only gaining 10 xp per year of study. I don't think that magic theory 14 is out of the question for a character who is gaining three times the experience points.
Threadomancy (I never followed up what I wanted to write in this thread)
Mansueta was a mouse that lived at the covenant of Durenmar. She was blessed at birth with the supernatural ability to sense danger. Prior to being bound as a familiar she had lived (in mouse terms) a long and fruitful life avoiding the many magical cats of the covenant that had preyed upon her kind for generations. She was extremely cautious (even for a mouse) and this trait permiated her life and her writings. As a familiar she was compelled to spend most of her time in her magus' lab and the portions of the libraries of Durenmar where she knew that she was safe. She regularly argued with her magus to avoid any activity that was even remotely dangerous. Her magic theory masterpiece "How to accomplish your goals in the laboratory without getting killed in an accident or eaten by a magical cat" was written when she was 68 years old. It is a level 7 quality 11 summa. Many magi who have studied from this book have later trained apprentices with the cautious spell caster virtue. For this reason, the book is often sought out by magi before they train apprentices.
is there something that I'm missing in RoP:M that contradicts the main book
I was under the impression that being bound as a familiar was sometimes sought after for this exact reason; they still need to use Vis as a transformation study source but they dont need to consume Vis to offset their might score as per normal magical creatures. its also the same deal with acclimation, the familiar bond sustains the creature, hence why its so difficult to bind high magic might creatures.
All the cool book writing is still a thing, especially if you also can bind creatures with the No Fatigue major quality. Binding a mundane creature seems only semi-useful, sure it also lives as long as you do (or longer, the rules are not clear on what happens after the magus dies), but it cant gain useful/cool magical qualities via transformation.
There is also the RoPM Errata:
"Advancement (p. 51-2): On page 52, add the following sentence at the end of the first section, immediately before the Transformation header. "Finally, as stated in ArM5 (page 105), magic creatures bound as familiars to Hermetic magi learn in the same way as humans, and retain those Abilities if the familiar bond is broken." "